“If I am stuck at the airport and the Delta agent is being a jerk to me… there is no way in the world I would be able to get any help or redress 10 years ago. When you got home you could write an angry letter,” Consultant Dorie Clark said. However, our ability to instantly post complaints online changes everything. “Now consumers have been empowered. Now you can do something about it.”
“Because companies want to control their reputation they are going to be on it.”
Clark’s Web 2.0 Expo New York session, How to (Mostly) Control Your Reputation Online, covers how you can prevent – or repair – these online communication disasters with a full response plan. She’ll also cover how you can marshal your fans and followers before an incident occurs.
She pointed to Taco Bell as a way to do this correctly. Not long ago, a rumor spread online questioning whether the fast food chain used real beef in its products. “You don’t want people to even be questioning if you’re using beef in your tacos.”
Unlike some companies that might ignore such a rumor, Taco Bell aggressively squashed it before it could gain steam. The chain’s president immediately went to YouTube with his response. They also contacted their over 7 million fans on Facebook and ~150k Twitter followers. As Dorie said, they already had an army of people who were favorably inclined toward Taco Bell. “They were able to quickly reach them and dispel rumors.”
“Now you have to be your own megaphone,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what other people think about you. You can talk directly to the people who care and believe in you.”
An essential part of reaching out to your fans is making sure you’ve built up enough good will before a storm hits. Make sure you are easily able to reach out to your ambassadors. When negative rumors or a situation hits, they’ll be able to help defend you or pro-actively evangelize on your behalf.
Along with monitoring Facebook and Twitter, companies should also consider using Google Alerts or any social media monitoring system. They should also pay attention to online review sites. “Yelp reviews can literally make or break a company,” she said. If you’re a larger company, it is worthwhile to have dedicated social media staffers integrated into the operations of the company.
Want to learn more? Come see Dorie speak next week at Web 2.0 Expo New York. Register with code BLG20 to save 20%.